Walking on eggshells to avoid a minefield of puns, Elaine Lavery knocks out a few over-easy ideas of things to do with eggs
In order to encourage us to eat more eggs, we are told that ‘an egg a day is ok’. Inspiring much? Possibly not. Eggs are probably the most versatile food there is, and they are also inexpensive, low in cholesterol and full of protein, vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner and are acceptable to meat eaters and vegetarians alike. There is so much that can be done with eggs that many cookbooks, particularly of the French variety, have entire sections dedicated to them. Eggs and typically egg yolks are the central character in a number of sauces and accompaniments. Without eggs we wouldn’t have famous dishes such as spaghetti carbonara or steak Béarnaise. We wouldn’t even have mayonnaise for that matter.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? On a weekday, all you might be able to manage is a boiled egg and a slice of toast. Delicious and all as that is, a lazy Sunday brunch is where eggs for breakfast really take the spotlight. Poached, they can be transformed into a delicious plate of eggs Benedict if you have the patience to make the egg-based Hollandaise sauce. Serve on a lightly toasted English muffin with a slice of good baked ham or smoked salmon for real indulgence. If your preference is for a sweet breakfast, whip up a batch of pancake batter. Thin, French-style crepes are delicious served simply with butter, sugar and lemon. For thick American-style pancakes, reduce the quantity of milk and add a spoonful of baking powder to your batter. Serve with crispy bacon and maple syrup, tuck in and enjoy.
After a busy day, there is no simpler or more satisfying supper than something concocted with eggs. Based on what’s in your fridge and store cupboard, be adventurous. An omelette can be enjoyed plain or with a filling of ham, cheese or tomato. My personal favourite is to fry some sliced onions with green peppers in olive oil to add to my two-egg omelette (hint: when making an omelette add a few drops of water to the eggs before whisking). If making a meal for two or more, a frittata, which is like a thick omelette, is ideal. To make: mix six to eight eggs with some milk, add a selection of fillings, such as cubes of Feta, sundried tomatoes and strips of roasted red peppers, season and cook in a frying pan drizzled with olive oil over a medium heat for about five minutes. Then place under a grill for a further five minutes until just cooked through. Flip out onto a large plate and slice like a cake to serve. If it’s been a really tough day and an omelette or frittata is beyond your capabilities, gently scrambled eggs with pan-fried chorizo is particularly good when served with a sprinkle of paprika.
Finally, a nod must be given to the humble egg’s contribution to the wonderful world of desserts. Some egg-based desserts such as baked alaska economically use up both constituent parts of the egg – the yolks are used in the ice-cream and the whites in the meringue coating. Egg yolks themselves form the base of anything custard or ice-cream based (think sherry trifle, crème brûlée, crème caramel and panacotta). But what to do with all the leftover egg whites? Egg whites are used as the binding in various icings and frostings, but the best uses for them are in the making of macaroons, meringues and pavlovas – the latter of which is beautiful served with whipped cream and any combination of berries or tropical fruit. The best tip of all is that you can freeze egg whites to be defrosted and used as the occasion calls.
More than just a small part of a greasy morning-after-the-night-before fry-up, experimenting just a little with eggs could lead you to something much more delicious than the dodgy fried alternative.